I-1-2-6.Delegation of Authority to Authorize Fees

Last Update: 2/25/05 (Transmittal I-1-48)

For delegations of authority below the hearing level, refer to POMS GN 03920.015.

A. ALJ Issues Final Decision or Action on the Claim

1. Fee Agreement

The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who favorably decided the claim or post-entitlement action has the authority to approve or disapprove a fee agreement. Refer to I-1-2-14 and I-1-2-15 for guidance when there is a partially favorable or subsequent decision.

If the claimant or representative requests administrative review of the fee amount under the fee agreement process, the ALJ who made the favorable determination will conduct the review. Upon completion of the review, he/she shall affirm or modify the amount that would otherwise be the maximum fee (i.e., he/she may authorize a reasonable fee, affirming, lowering or raising the original fee).

NOTE:

If the ALJ, who has the authority to approve or disapprove a fee agreement or who has jurisdiction over the request for administrative review, is unavailable for a period of 30 days or more, the Hearing Office Chief ALJ will act on the fee agreement or review the administrative review request and make a determination, or delegate that responsibility to another ALJ to avoid inordinate delays in processing the fee-related action.

If the ALJ requests administrative review, the reviewing official is the Regional Chief ALJ (RCALJ) who has jurisdiction over the claimant's servicing hearing office (HO). If the RCALJ requests administrative review, the reviewing official is the Deputy Chief ALJ or the Chief ALJ.

If the ALJ approves or disapproves the fee agreement and the claimant or representative requests administrative review of the approval or disapproval, the RCALJ who has jurisdiction over the claimant's servicing HO is the reviewing official. If the RCALJ was the decision maker, the reviewing official is the Deputy Chief ALJ or the Chief ALJ.

2. Fee Petition

Under the fee petition process, the ALJ who issued the final favorable decision or takes the last unfavorable action in a claim reviews the fee petition. The ALJ may authorize a fee up to and including $10,000. The chart below shows the person who must review and authorize a recommendation for a fee greater than $10,000. In establishing whether the $10,000 limit applies, the determinative factor is the amount of the fee(s) the ALJ proposes to authorize rather than the amount(s) the representative(s) requested.

To recommend and authorize a fee greater than $10,000:

Recommending Official

Authorizing Official

ALJ or Hearing Office CALJ

RCALJ

RCALJ

Deputy Chief ALJ

Deputy Chief ALJ

Chief ALJ

NOTE:

If the ALJ with jurisdiction over the fee petition is unavailable for a period of 30 days or more, the Hearing Office Chief ALJ, subject to the $10,000 limit, will review the petition and make a fee determination or delegate that responsibility to another ALJ to avoid inordinate delays in processing fee petitions. If the claimant, affected auxiliary beneficiary, or representative requests administrative review of the initial fee authorized by an ALJ, the RCALJ who has jurisdiction over the claimant's servicing HO has the authority to conduct the review. If the RCALJ set the initial fee, either as the presiding ALJ or on a recommendation from a presiding ALJ, the Deputy Chief ALJ has the authority to conduct the administrative review.

B. Appeals Council Issues the Last Decision or Action on the Claim

1. Fee Agreement

Under the fee agreement process, the Administrative Appeals Judge (AAJ) who favorably decided the claim or post-entitlement action has the authority to approve or disapprove a fee agreement.

If the claimant, an affected auxiliary beneficiary, or the representative requests administrative review of the fee amount, the reviewing official is the Attorney Fee Officer in the Attorney Fee Branch (AFB), Office of Appellate Operations. If the AAJ requests administrative review of the fee amount, the reviewing official is the Deputy Chair, Appeals Council (AC). If the Deputy Chair approved the fee agreement and requested administrative review of the fee amount, the reviewing official is the Chair, AC.

If the claimant or representative requests administrative review of the disapproval of the fee agreement, the Deputy Chair, AC, is delegated the authority to conduct administrative review. If the decision maker was the Deputy Chair, AC, the reviewing official is the Chair, AC.

2. Fee Petition

The AFB reviews fee petitions and authorizes fees in cases the AC resolved.

The Deputy Chair, AC, has the authority to conduct the administrative review after the AFB made the initial fee authorization.

There is no restriction on the fee the Attorney Fee Officer, the Deputy Chair or the Chair may authorize to a representative under the fee petition process.

C. Federal Court Issues the Decision

Sections 206(b)(1) and 1631(d)(2) of the Social Security Act authorizes a Federal court that renders a favorable title II or, after February 27, 2005, a title XVI judgment to determine and allow a reasonable fee, not to exceed 25 percent of title II and/or title XVI past-due benefits, for an attorney's services in proceedings before the court.

Refer to I-1-2-71 for additional information on attorney's fees for representation in court proceedings.

D. SSA Issues Decision After Federal Court Proceedings

1. Fee Agreement

If SSA makes a favorable decision on a court remand, the decision maker is the ALJ or AAJ who favorably decided the claim.

2. Fee Petition

In cases resolved following Federal court proceedings, the person or component within ODAR that issued the final decision or took the last action on SSA's behalf, generally reviews the representative's fee petition and authorizes the fee for services provided in proceedings before SSA.